On June 21, 2013 Washington Park and Rochelle High Schools Alumni Association, Incorporation held its Twentieth Annual Scholarship Banquet. The banquet was held at the Imperial Swan Hotel & Suites in Lakeland, Florida. The theme of the event was Education for a Better Tomorrow.
Mr. Freddie C. Austin (Colonel, U.S. Army [Ret.]) is the current President of the organization. Ronnie L. Hogan is the Vice President. The guest speaker for the 2013 scholarship banquet was Wanda Hayes Gibson, MS, RN-BC (Rochelle High School Class of 1963). The 2013 scholarship recipients were Erika Danielle Ennis (Lakeland High School), Joovan Sharde Davis (Harrison Center for the Arts), Johnathan Lamar Niblack (Lakeland High School), Tyrell Juwan Adams (Kathleen High School), and Robens Petit’Homme (Kathleen High School). To date, scholarship awards have exceeded $99,000.
The Organization’s History
The Washington Park and Rochelle High Schools Alumni Association began with an idea from Ms. Gussie Jackson, Washington Park High School graduate of the class of 1939. She shared her idea for a Washington Park Alumni social gathering with her longtime friend, Madalynne Brooks. Ms. Brooks then set a plan in motion. On October 19, 1993 approximately 20 alumni of Washington Park High School met at New Bethel A.M.E. Church in Lakeland, Florida to formally organize the Washington Park Club. Due to the close association between Washington Park High School and Rochelle High School, documents were filed to amend the name of the organization to its current name in 1995.
The Mission Statement of the Washington Park and Rochelle High Schools Alumni Association is as follows:
The Association is dedicated to sponsoring fundraising events with the proceeds earmarked for support of higher education in our community. The recipients of our financial support come solely from the City of Lakeland public high schools. They must be deserving and underprivileged graduating seniors, regardless of race, who will enroll in a four year college/university or vocational school. Likewise, grants and loans are anticipated being made to deserving individuals who left their pursuit of higher education due to financial reasons, but desire to re-enter.
Mayor Gow Fields was in attendance at the banquet. He presented the “Key to the City” to the event’s guest speaker. The Rochelle High School class of 1963 was the anniversary class at this year’s banquet, celebrating their 50th year since graduating. The Rochelle High School Class of 1968 also celebrated their 45th year since graduating. The eldest attendee at the Washington Park and Rochelle High Alumni Association Annual Scholarship Banquet was a graduate of the class of 1939.